Governing Education in a Complex World

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What models of governance are effective in complex education systems? In all systems an increasing number of stakeholders are involved in designing, delivering and monitoring education. Like our societies, education systems are increasingly diverse regarding students, teachers and communities, as well as the values and identities we expect education to deliver. These trends have increased the complexity of education systems, leaving decision makers on all governance levels with the question of how to successfully manoeuvre in this highly dynamic policy area.

Governing Education in a Complex World addresses key challenges involved in governing modern education systems, looking specifically at complexity, accountability, capacity building and strategic thinking. The publication brings together research from the OECD Secretariat and invited chapters from international scholars to provide a state of the art analysis and a fresh perspective on some of the most challenging issues facing educational systems today.

Creating the open, dynamic and strategic governance systems necessary for governing complex systems is not easy. This volume challenges our traditional concepts of education governance through work on complexity, collaborative networks and decision-making. In doing so it sets the agenda for thinking about the inclusive and adaptable systems necessary for governing education in today’s world. The volume will be a useful resource for those interested in education governance and complexity, particularly policy-makers, education leaders, teachers and the education research community.



Learning to fail, not failing to learn

Education systems must continuously evolve and improve in order to meet the diverse needs of today’s learners. This urge for innovation and improvement is at the top of policy agendas across the OECD. However, innovation can be inhibited by governance systems that seek to minimise risk and errors. Although an important element of accountability, they can also inadvertently serve to entrench the status quo. Innovation in education requires careful risk-taking and the accompanying possibility of failure. This chapter discusses two ways in which this can be accomplished: Through experimentation, i.e. the testing of innovative programmes in a limited magnitude and scope; as well as by developing a governance system that can learn from failures as well as successes. This chapter argues that both are useful and necessary elements of a modern, evolving governance system, and provides a brief overview of how each of these two elements might play out in modern education.


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